When George W. Bush addressed issues like profiling with a Dearborn, Mich.,
crowd in 2000, he became the first presidential candidate to openly woo the
Arab-American and Muslim vote. Exit polls showed it paid off: he won 45
percent of the Arab vote nationwide and swept 70 percent of the Muslim
vote. So why isn't he aggressively courting the estimated 3 million
Arab-Americans or the 5 million to 7 million U.S. Muslims now? "The
dissatisfaction among these communities on key issues is too great," says
James Zogby of the Arab American Institute. "Those concerned about Iraq,
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or their civil liberties are not going to
vote for him." The detainment of thousands of Arabs and Muslims under the
Patriot Act, the bloodshed in Baghdad and Bush's support of Ariel Sharon
have eroded his credibility among a group that could be a real factor in
this tight race.
A Zogby poll of Arab voters in four swing states shows John Kerry leading
Bush 49 to 32 percent, while a Council on American-Islamic Relations poll
finds that only 3 percent of U.S. Muslims plan on voting for Bush. Hassan
Essayli, an Arab-American and Republican who voted for Bush in '00, feels
"betrayed." Bush spokesman Scott Stanzel says the campaign was "gratified"
to have these groups' backing in 2000 and that it's "working to maintain
and build on that support.